Celebrating Your Relationships

In the ordinary course of events, in order to bring something about, you need to establish a process. In other words, in order for me to get from here to here, I can’t do it all at once. I have to do it one step at a time and by handling it one step at a time, I can, as a matter of fact, be from here to there. So all I need to do is to be willing to establish a process, to manufacture a process – to produce a process. And by a process I can, in fact, accomplish something. Now, that’s the ordinary space in which we live.

There is, however, an extraordinary space in which we also live. I didn’t say to you that there’s an extraordinary space which you can achieve. Let me be very clear that I did not say that there is an extraordinary space which you can achieve. I said that we live both in the ordinary space and we live in this extraordinary space. Well, it’s like having the keys to an automobile in your pocket. If you don’t ever go out and put it in the ignition, you don’t get to drive the automobile. It isn’t enough that the automobile is there. You actually have to know about it and use it. So I want to turn you on to a quality of the space in which you live which could be called the extraordinary quality. And that is, that at the base of it all, fundamentally what’s so, is so by your consideration alone.

A great deal of what exists in our life exists as a function of our considerations. If you consider it to be so, it’s so. If you consider that I love you, I love you. Now you may not be able to consider me down there on the floor standing next to you.  It may be that that’s the part of your life that works in the ordinary way, because that’s pretty ordinary, standing next to someone. To be loved is extraordinary, and it’s a function of the extraordinary space. And it happens as a function of your consideration alone. By merely considering that I love you, I love you.

So you’ve got this universe in which you can create by consideration alone. I call that the magic wand. And it is the instrument by which one creates this ecstatic quality in one’s relationships. You imbue the relationship with ecstasy. You create, in the relationship, ecstasy. Now I caution you that you cannot create in opposition to anything. So if there’s something in the relationship, which you would consider to be inconsistent with ecstasy, you can’t create ecstasy in opposition to that thing. You can’t say, “It’s horrible, but I’m going to make it ecstatic.” You can’t say, “I don’t trust them, but I’m going to pretend it’s ecstatic. I’m going to.” This is not act as if. This is not pretend.  This is not go through the motions. This is something far senior to that. So you can’t consider, you can’t create by consideration, you can’t create by magic wand in opposition to anything.  You can, however, include anything in that which you create. So to create ecstasy in your relationship doesn’t mean that any particular thing has to be in your relationship or not in your relationships. There can be any circumstance and any condition presently existing in your relationship and you can wave the magic wand of ecstasy, as long as you’re willing to include in the ecstasy, as long as you’re willing for that circumstance or that consideration to be a function of the ecstasy, to in fact manifest the ecstasy, to express the ecstasy. And your willingness to allow any condition or any circumstance of your relationship to express the ecstasy is a part of the creation of the ecstasy.

So one creates ecstasy by waving one’s magic wand. One does not create ecstasy by doing something. I am ecstatic because I am ecstatic. I love you because I love you. You are magnificent because I’ve waved the magic wand of magnificence. I am magnificent because I’ve waved the magic wand of magnificence and every one of my characteristics is an expression of that magnificence. So let’s get clear with respect to creating magnificence in your relationships, with respect to creating ecstasy in your relationships, with respect to being willing to have pleasure be an expression of your love, this is all a function of your magic wand. This is all a function of your willingness to create it so, to consider it so. It is so because you consider it to be so. The action follows. The feelings follow. Sometimes people say things like, “I’m terrible” and I ask them how they measure that. By what means do you measure that you’re terrible? Someone once answered me, “Well, I don’t feel good. I feel bad.” Well, I don’t know. Some poetry is about feeling bad and yet it was ecstatic. Your feelings, good or bad, are merely an expression of your ecstasy, merely an expression of your love. To master this space, to master the space of ecstasy, to master the space of love, one must be willing to create by consideration. You need to be willing to do that. You need to be willing to create a context around the existing circumstances. And as you’ve heard from the people who’ve expressed it, it often takes a lot of courage.

But what if it turns out that you were a fool? Well, fool is probably not down very far from where you are if you’re worried about it. I mean, what the hell, it’s probably worth taking the chance. Don’t you see that you’ve exchanged the quality of your life, just to be right in the eyes of the people around you? Don’t you see that you’ve exchanged the quality of your life in order to defend yourself, in order to handle the issues with people you love, that you’ve given up, you’ve sacrificed, you’ve been willing to give up the quality in your life in order to have the power, the force to handle the issues between you and the people in your life. I mean, what the hell are you going to lose? What could you lose? You’ve already given your life up. If you’re doing that, you’ve already given your life up. What the hell have you got to lose? Some crummy job? Some crummy marriage or relationship in which the issues are more important than the expression or experience of love? Not much to lose. If, in fact, it only exists in appearances, so what? And yet, to be loved is extraordinary, and it happens as a function of your consideration alone. – Werner Erhard


Excerpt from The Graduate Review, Sept. 1978, from a presentation by Werner Erhard

Peter Block on Werner Erhard

Werner Erhard has created thinking and learning experiences that have affected millions of people’s lives.

The power of language.

Werner understands the primal creative nature of language. Many of us have focused for years on improving conversations. We have known that dialogue and communication are important tools for improvement. Werner takes it to a whole new realm by asserting that all transformation is linguistic. He believes that a shift in speaking and listening is the essence of transformation. If we have any desire to create an alternative future, it is only going to happen through a shift in our language. If we want a change in culture, for example, the work is to change the conversation–or, more precisely, to have a conversation that we have not had before, one that has the power to create something new in the world. This insight forces us to question the value of our stories, the positions we take, our love of the past, and our way of being in the world.

The power of context.

Another insight is in the statement, “The context is decisive.” This means that the way we function is powerfully impacted by our worldview, or the way, in his language, “the world shows up for us.” Nothing in our doing or the way we go through life will shift until we can question, and then choose once again, the basic set of beliefs–some call it mental models; we’re calling it context here–that lie behind our actions. Quoting Werner, “Contexts are constituted in language, so we do have something to say about the contexts that limit and shape our actions.”

Implied in this insight is that we have a choice over the context in which we live. Plus, as an added bargain, we can choose a context that better suits who we are now without the usual requirements of inner work, a life-threatening crisis, finding a new relationship, or going back to school (the most common transformational technologies of choice).

The way this happens, (made too simple here) is by changing our relationship with our past. We do this by realizing, through a process of reflection and rethinking, how we have not completed our past and unintentionally keep bringing it into the future. The shift happens when we pay close attention to the constraints of our listening and accept the fact that our stories are our limitation. This ultimately creates an opening for a new future to occur.

The power of possibility. Changing our relationship with our past leads to another aspect of language that Werner has carefully developed. This is an understanding of the potential in the concept and use of possibility. Possibility as used here is distinguished from other words like vision, goals, purpose, and destiny. Each of those has its own profound meaning, but all are different from the way Werner uses the word possibility. Possibility here is a declaration, a declaration of what we create in the world each time we show up. It is a condition, or value, that we want to occur in the world, such as peace, inclusion, relatedness, reconciliation. A possibility is brought into being in the act of declaring it.

Werner described this with more precision in recent personal correspondence:

I suggest that you consider making it clear that it is the future that one lives into that shapes one’s being and action in the present. And, the reason that it appears that it is the past that shapes one’s being and action in the present is that for most people the past lives in (shapes) their view of the future.

…it’s only by completing the past )being complete with the past) such that it no longer shape’s one’s being and action in the present that there is room to create a new future (one not shaped by the past – a future that wasn’t going to happen anyhow). Futures not shaped by the past (i.e, a future that wasn’t going to happen anyhow) are constructed in language.

In summary, (1) one gets complete with the past, which takes it out of the future (being complete with the past is not to forget the past); (2) in the room that is now available in the future when one’s being and action are no longer shaped by the past, one creates a future (a future that moves, touches, and inspires one); (3) that future starts to shape one’s being and actions in the present so that they are consistent with realizing that future.

Peter Block, excerpted from his book, Community: The Structure of Belonging, 2009

J.L Moreno on Werner Erhard

From the book, Impromptu Man,  by Jonathan D. Moreno

“Erhard Seminars Training, known as est, epitomized the Great Crossover. In the 1970’s, as hundreds of troubled hospitalized patients were daily being released for their involuntary commitment in vast institutions, hundreds of “normal people” were voluntarily entering hotel ballrooms in the hope of transforming themselves. The attraction was a handsome and charismatic young man named Werner Erhard, who had undergone his own “transformation.” The word has a nearly technical significance for Erhard, who uses it to refer to his realization that what stood between him and his completeness as a human being was within his control. A critical part of “the training,” as practitioners refer to it, is freeing oneself from the past, accomplished by “experiencing” recurrent patterns and problems rather than repeating them, where “experience” again has a technical significance. To fully experience the pointless repetition of old, burdensome behaviors is to “experience them out.” An early biography of Erhard explains that:

“The Training provides a format in which siege is mounted on the Mind. It is intended to identify and bring under examination presuppositions and entrenched positionality. It aims to press one beyond one’s point of view, at least momentarily, into a perspective from which one observes one’s own positionality… The setting for the training is arduous and intrusive, …In the training ordinary ways to escape confronting one’s experience are- with the agreement of the participants-sealed off in advance. On the concrete level this means limited access to food, water toilets, bed. Alcohol and drugs are forbidden. There is limited movement, there are no clocks or watches by which to tell the time; one may not talk to others; nor may one sit beside friends. Internal crutches and barriers to experience – such as one’s own belief systems – are also challenged by means of philosophical lectures and exercises in imagination.”

Participants might have been surprised how both physically and emotionally challenging and how philosophical the training was…Erhard struck a chord among many, partly because it was simultaneously original and familiar. Erhard brought a uniquely American voice to the themes of the fading human potential movement, and est training was in the American tradition of Great Awakenings and motivational programs. He had a way with pithy, often spontaneous observations about life and living. Evan as the spirit of the 1960s lost steam, there was a powerful lingering desire among many for personal exploration and for more authentic connections to others. In many ways the training was the most important cultural event after the human potential movement itself seemed exhausted, with elements of theater, therapy, and social networking.

Somewhere along the line the clunky term “large group awareness training” had been coined in reference to experiences like est that were on a bigger scale than Lewin’s T-groups, but still aiming at Maslow’s peak experiences. Crucially, est workshops took place on a stage before dozens or even hundreds of people. That was a departure from the usual encounter group size of a dozen or so participants, and further still from the analyst’s couch. Erhard also confronted participants one-on-one, challenging them to be themselves rather than playing some role that had been imposed on them, a form of Socratic interrogation reminiscent of J.L.’s story about mounting the stage to confront the actor in the “legitimate” Vienna theater. Erhard was sensitive to the aspect of theater in the training; his biographer even calls it “a new form of participatory theater,… Like most drams, it has catharsis as one of its aims. Unlike most drama, it also aims to bring the participant to an experience of him or herself which is tantamount to transformation.” In the early years of est Erhard cited psychodrama as one way of “rehabilitating the imagination in the attempt to bring people to their potential.” And he plainly had enormous charisma and self-confidence, qualities that J.L. also didn’t lack. Erhard sold his company in 1991; it survives as Landmark Worldwide and its basic program is called the Landmark Forum. Erhard now travels and lectures on leadership education and integrity. Referring to a book he is completing with a friend, Erhard says that “I’d like to live long enough to get the ideas down.”

From Impromptu Man: J.L. Moreno and the Origins of Psychodrama, Encounter Culture, and the Social Network, by Jonathan D. Moreno

Jonathan D. Moreno is an American philosopher and historian who specializes in the intersection of bioethics, culture, science, and national security, and has published seminal works on the history, sociology and politics of biology and medicine.

Your power is a function of velocity

Your power is a function of velocity, that is to say, your power is a function of the rate at which you translate intention into reality. Most of us disempower ourselves by finding a way to slow, impede, or make more complex than necessary the process of translating intention into reality.

There are two factors worth examining in our impairing velocity, in our disempowering ourselves.

The first is the domain of reasonableness. When we deal with our intentions or act to realize our intentions from reasonableness, we are in the realm of slow, impede and complicate. When we are oriented around the story or the narrative, the explanations, the justifications, we are oriented around that in which there is no velocity, no power.

Results are black and white. In life, one either has results (one’s intentions realized) or one has the reason, story, explanations, and justifications. The person of power does not deal in explanations. This way of being might be termed management by results (not management for results but management by results). The person of power manages him or herself by results and creates a space or mood of results in which to interact with others.

The other factor to be addressed is time. Now never seems to be the right time to act. The right time is always in the future. Usually this appears in the guise of “after I (or we) do so and so, then it will be the right time to act”; or “after so and so occurs, then it will be the right time to act”; or “when so and so occurs, then it will be the right time to act.” The guise includes “gathering all the facts,” “getting the plan down,” “figuring out ‘X’,” “getting ready,” etc.

Since now is the only time you have in reality and now will never seem to be the right time to act, one may as well act now. Even though “it isn’t the right time,” given that the “right time” will never come, acting now is, at the least, powerful (even if you don’t get to be right). Most people wait for the decisive moment, whereas people of power are decisive in the moment. – Werner Erhard

By Werner Erhard, March 21, 1983

Werner Erhard

Werner Erhard is an original thinker whose ideas have transformed the effectiveness of and quality of life for millions of people and thousands of organizations around the world.  For more than 40 years he has been the creator of innovative ideas and models of individual, organizational, and social transformation.

His work has been the source of new perspectives for thinkers and practitioners in fields as diverse as business, education, philosophy, medicine, psychotherapy, developing and emerging countries, conflict resolution and community building.  Erhard has created new ways of seeing things in areas where progress has stalled or where breakthroughs would make a significant difference.  A majority of the Fortune 100 companies, and many foundations and governmental entities, have used his ideas and models.  Fortune magazine’s 40th anniversary issue (5/15/95), in examining the major contributions to management thinking, recognized Werner Erhard’s ideas about methods for empowering people as one of the major innovations in management thinking of the last few decades.

Warren Bennis on Werner Erhard

“I’ve known Werner for almost 4 decades and with a variety of lenses and different angles. He is an enormously gifted person, singular at that, and sensitive as I like to think I am, it took me awhile and a leap into the unknown to get the fullness of him. I’m not talking about my admiration for the lives he’s illuminated the paths for and the concrete steps his educational programs have achieved to serve as guides for the thousands… It took me about 6 months…until I understood him. At that moment, coterminous with understanding him, I understood myself… It was Werner who was instrumental in my coming to the understanding of what I mean by authenticity.”  Warren Bennis

warren bennis

Warren Bennis: Former Chairman, Harvard University Kennedy School of Government Center for Public Leadership

Access To Being A Leader and The Effective Exercise of Leadership

The ontological methodology gives one access to being a leader and exercising leadership effectively as it is lived and directly experienced on the court.

You get left being a leader and exercising leadership effectively as your natural self-expression. When you think about what it is to perform on the court it really does need to be your natural self-expression. I like to watch Nadal play tennis or Federer play tennis. I don’t think they are remembering how to play. I don’t think that they learned something and then remembered it. No, for them the game is a natural self-expression and as such they become extraordinarily powerful players.

We allow people to discover for themselves that their way of being and their actions, or if you like, their way of being when being a leader and their actions when exercising leadership effectively, are a match, a natural match, or as we would say it in the course a natural correlate of the way what they are dealing with occurs for them. So we could say that being a leader and exercising leadership effectively as my natural self-expression depended on the way what I am dealing with as a leader occurs for me. How does it show up for me, what I am dealing with?

Now the question is – how am I going to get whatever it is I am dealing with to occur for me such that my natural self expression is one of being a leader and one of exercising leadership effectively? The question is –  where am I going to get my being and action now? And for the most part we get our being and action right from the contents of our brain which is what’s happened in the past. But if I am standing in the future, what my brain has to draw on is its imagination and its creativity. If I am standing in the past looking at the future, it’s difficult to see the pathways. It’s kind of like looking from the bottom of a mountain up to the top, it’s difficult to see how I might get there, but if I stand on the top of the mountain and look down the mountain I’m probably going to see more than one way to get there. Leading from standing in the future reveals a lot more possibilities for realizing that future.

My experience with really outstanding leaders is that they never come up with the future to be presented to the people that they are leading. They find a way to get that future created from the people they are leading. If you are leading me and you come to me with, “Well Werner, this is the top of the mountain. This is where we are going to get.”  I have to buy in to it.

But if I participate with you in creating which mountain is going to be the top of the mountain, then it doesn’t require buy in. Getting there belongs to me equally as it belongs to you. You may have had a lot to do with shaping the conversation so I could see which mountain was going to make it. I think that being a really good leader one wants to keep in mind the critical importance that the people who have to act to realize the future that you are committed to realizing, that that future really belongs to them. They are moved touched and inspired by what that future is, both its accomplishment but also by seeing that along the way they are going to be able to fulfill their concerns. They are going to find an opportunity for self expression and finally they are going to see that they can make a contribution, a noteworthy contribution that really made a difference in realizing that future.

Over the 40 years and the impact that I’ve seen people engaged in this work have on their own lives you have a sense that there is something truly valuable here. I am sure that there is a lot more that’s beyond my reach and I’d like to leave it so that people standing on whatever it is that my colleagues and I have created that they can get to that more that is beyond our reach.

– Werner Erhard

Werner Erhard Information

Werner H. Erhard is an internationally renowned figure of our time. He is the originator of the unique model of transformational learning that has helped shaped human consciousness in the last quarter of the 20th century. One of the great thinkers of the modern era, he has impacted, for decades, the areas of individual and organizational effectiveness throughout the world.

Time Magazine, March 7, 2011, said of Erhard: “The American obsession with Transformation isn’t new. It’s about as old as the nation. But it was Werner Erhard who created the first modern transformation when he founded est seminars in 1971. It’s a tribute to the power of his central concept that more than 20 years after he sold his ideas to a group of employees Landmark is still the natural first stop in any transformation tour.” [Excerpted from “Change We Can (Almost) Believe In” by Nathan Thornburgh.]



Influencial Ideas

Werner Erhard’s work has become an important resource for academic institutions and a catalyst for creative thinking and teaching in both the academic and corporate environments throughout the world.  His work has been noted as a key element in current management thinking and the science of productivity, performance and leadership.  As a reflection of his influence throughout the world, the friends of Werner Erhard website has been translated into JapaneseSpanish and Chinese.

Werner Erhard

Werner Erhard es el creador de modelos transformacionales y aplicaciones para la transformación individual, social y de la organización. Sus innovadoras ideas han estimulado conversaciones académicas en muchas universidades, más recientemente en las áreas de integridad, liderazgo y desempeño. Werner Erhard ha disertado en Harvard University, Yale University, Escuela de Negocios Simon de la Universidad de Rochester y Erasmus University. Leer más…



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